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Asian immigrants in NYC not receiving HIV education at religious institutions

Religious institutions serving New York City's Asian immigrants are not educating their congregations about HIV prevention and healthcare, in part because some leaders hold stigma and fear about the disease, according to a new study by The New York Academy of Medicine in the upcoming issue of the international journal AIDS Education and Prevention. This special issue devoted to Asians/Pacific Islanders and HIV is being published this week.

These institutions are missing a vital opportunity to reach masses of immigrants for whom a temple or mosque is the only connection with a formal support system and therefore a potentially critical source of life-saving health information, said lead author John J. Chin, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate in the Academy Division of Health Policy. "Religious institutions in Asian immigrant communities are very influential and in a unique position to confront the challenges of the HIV epidemic for the communities they serve," Chin said. "The conversation about HIV is often nonexistent among Asian immigrants, and religious institutions need to take the lead to change that to prevent transmission in their communities, and assist those who are already infected."

Academy scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health conducted 17 in-depth interviews with leaders and members of a Buddhist temple in Chinatown, a Hindu temple in Queens, and an Islamic center and mosque in Queens. All immigrants interviewed were from China, India, or Bangladesh. Researchers speaking in English, Mandarin, or Urdu assessed each person's knowledge of HIV/AIDS, attitudes toward the disease, and willingness to be involved in HIV-related services. This is the first systematic study of Asian immigrant religious institutions' willingness to take a role in HIV prevention or care in the United States.

The findings were striking. Some leaders of Asian religious institutions said they believe HIV poses only a minimal risk for the As
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Source:New York Academy of Medicine


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